VMUG UserCon Melbourne Wrap up – 2017

Melbourne VMUG UserCon Wrapup

This year I had the opportunity to fly down to Melbourne for the VMUG UserCon. This was an amazing time to meet some of the superstars from Vmware and NetApp/SolidFire as well as meet some hiighly skilled people that I have only ever met online in either forums or twitter. The day was filled with all highs and no lows. I had the oppportunity to see the event come together before the day via the slack channel and first off I would like to point out that it was a difficult process this year as there had been some changes at VMUGHQ that put the guys from Sydney VMUG and Melbourne VMUG under some intense pressure, but they did an amazing pulling the event together and making it a really great day. I think these guys deserve a huge thank you for their efforts and a congratulations on a great day.

Lets start from the beginning of the event, A couple of days before the event I thought I might try my luck and just put a universal invite on twitter for meeting up for breakfast before the event started. I hesitated on the “tweet” button unsure of the response, thinking that only one or two people would join. Alas! Almost immediately there was a reply from one of the VMUG steering committee members keen to come along depending on the time (obviously due to requiring to be at the event early). After a couple of more hours, there were replies and a time was agreed upon. I was In awe by the response from a number of people who were willing to join me (Who I had not interacted with before online) This showed me immediately the community spirit amoungst like-minded VMWare/VMUG attendees. I was joined by the likes of Brett Johnson, Manny Sidhu, Brett Sinclair, Jeff Wong, Rebecca Fitzhugh, Boris Jelic, and a couple more. All these guys are superstars and was amazing to be around a very smart group of people. The night before I thought I would take a leap (I will expand on this in a further section below) and thought I would take a chance and invite some superstar presenters, again I hesitated for a few minutes before clicking on “Direct Message,” button and reached out to Alan Renouf and almost immediately received a “Send me the location and time” reponse. The thing we keep forgetting is that all of these people are just human like you and me, and we are a communityfrom far and wide. It was a great start to what was going to be a great day. Awesome conversations and full of laughter. My take-away from this is to take that step and reach out to the community, you might be surprised at the people who may just come and have a coffee with you.

Starting otf the event was registration followed by the introduction and farewell of Craig Waters and Andrew Dauncey who have stepped down from their VMUG leader roll in Melbourne and passing the baton on to Mark Ukotic and Tyson Then. After a Vmware update the first keynote superstar, none other Cheif technologist – Duncan Epping stepped onto the stage to speak about VSAN Use Cases, current features and what will be coming out in time. To start with, Duncan talked about storage, mentioning that data growth between 2010 and 2020 will be 50x and that today’s storage doesn’t always meet today’s requirements. Duncan moved on to talk about use cases for VSAN and spoke about how there are SDDCs on oil wells and on trains and the require for a hyperconverged platform to make a compact SDDC. Other use cases are larger organisations using VSAN for their management cluster.
VSAN is really simple to deploy with a couple of tick boxes, however to make VSAN work efficiently and to get the most out of it, one of the most important things you can do is set up Storage Based Policy Management, this allows VSAN to best select the right way to manage the storage and performance of the virtual machine. Specifying Fault domains is a great way to set up redundancy, you can set it up by rack or shelf, so if a rack burns down, there is still a copy of the data in another fault domain. In VSAN 6.5, there is now softwar checksums and disk scrubbing to help prevent data corruption, direct connection for 2 x VSAN nodes and ALL FLASH is now licnsed under the standard VSAN license.

Right after Duncan’s presentation, Amy Lewis – NetApp Solidfire, broght up a panel onstage to discuss Getting ahead in your career and being active in the community and online Social Media. The discussion started off about “are you in the right places to hear the right things?” discussing the use of twitter, slack and other social media to hear about the items relevent to you. Amy made a great point about reaching out and it cemented in me that event though I hesitated twice regarding breakfast, the overwhelming response I had is exactly what can be achieved just be taking that leap and reaching out to the big names.
Talking blogs, there was a lot of discussin around, finding what to blog about, how to find something to blog about and finding the time to blog. This is a challenge I have found for myself, it is easy for me to write a blog post like this, but when it comes to something technical, it is hard to decide whether or not anyone will read it, or if has already been convered before, however the overall response is, “Blog it regardless, someone might need it one day.”
The last point that was asked by an audience member was “How do you seprate yourself from person and business accounts” This is a hot topic, when you are posting on twitter, sometimes you may get carried away and this can reflect on your company, but it is about finding the balance.
**The funny thing is, I want to make a sidenote, when I wrote this section, I was on the plane trip home, however, once I got back to Brisbane and in mobile data range, I was hitting up twitter to catch up and I replied to a post by Scott Lowe regarding his OS change over from OSX to Fedora, and as having changed to Fedora at the same time as Scott I made a comment about my experience. Later, I received a question from Scott asking if I would like to do a write for his series on my experience to which I replied that in the past I would have said I had nothing to contribute, but since hearing Amy Lewis yesterday, I reckon I could come up with something.
And that’s it, finding something to write about and doing it, writing even if you don’t think you have something to write about. That request topped off my trip to the Melbourne VMUG, all because I wrote something to a superstar and they responded.

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The Amy Lewis GeekWhispers Panel

So Josh Atwell, what a presenter, apart from turning up a minute late, Josh was straight into it, telling everyone how it is, giving everyone to have a cry about IT. Now, DevOps is something I’ve been looking at getting into for a short while now and I thought I would give this session a go, and I was not disappointed. The way Josh presented was that even if you’re not in DevOps, you will be at the end of his presentation. Understanding what DevOps is.

DevOps = Makes deploying code suck less.”

“DevOps exists for communication, collaboration and Integration”

The image on screen was a brick wall between Dev and Ops and a folder was being thrown over
With some images that pointed out the truth, Josh talked about “What is Ops good at?” He lists them as:

  • Problem Solvers
  • Great Researchers
  • Learn Quickly when motivated.

Resourceful:

  • Process what it takes to deliver
  • Good in a Crisis
  • Duct Tape Engineering

 

Emad Younis has been travelling the world presenting the Migrate2VCSA tool, however this presentation goes into more detail than that. Emad not only talks about the prerequisits and running the tool, but he also dives into the new features in VCSA 6.5. There are several dot points that Emad touches on regarding why the VCSA is a much better option than the Windows vCenter:

  • Quick and Easy to Provision – Straight from the ISO to hypervisor via web interface
  • Licensing – Do not require windows license
  • No DB maintenance – PostgreSQL is pretuned
  • Unified patching – Running on photon and not SLES as previous – no 3rd party updates

When using the Migration tool, you need to remember that if you currently have an embedded platform services controller then you can not migrate to an external and vice versa. The migration assistant runs all the checks across the system, if you have a VUM server connected, it will be detected and will advise you to remove from your vCenter before migrating. Ensure that your NTP and DNS (Forward and Reverse) are configured correctly and make sure you know your topology – custom configured ports are not supported.
Emad went on to talking about 6.5, the VCSA is now able to be deployed from any OS and there is no longer a requirement for the Client Integration Tool. The deployment is also split into 2 stages so that you can come back later if required and finish configuring the vCenter server. 6.5 now supports High Availability natively utilising a passive and witness VCSAs deployed on separate hosts. VUM is now integrated into the appliance making it easier to control the entire vCenter environment from a single-pane of glass. There is also a built in backup and restore feature.

Closing keynote for the day was with two legends of VMware who strive to promote automation and why you should to. William Lam and Alan Renouf started off with talking about a first for UserCons, setting up a mini SDDC, fully-automated from an USB stick. This was originally achieved in Sydney using an Intel NUC, however it did take longer than expected and the after party drinks started while they waited for it to finish. Thanks to Tai Ratcliff for lending his supermicro box for the demonstration. There was a section discussing how the process works and how you can set up the process yourself by using the kick start script for ESXi and the VCSA CLI Installer that is part of the VCSA iso. During the wait for the process to run, Alan and William spoke about automation with VMware, Alan spoke started the main part with the line “If you do it more than once, Automate it!.” This is very true as I have done some repetitive tasks in the past I should have automated, even though there was months between each one.
The next was actually a question I asked Alan at breakfast, I told Alan I hack and slash other code as I don’t know how to start coding an automation process. Alan describe the process on stage, he said “Write down the manual steps, once you have this, script each line individually and then add them all together.” It actually is that easy.

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“It’s not stealing, it’s Sharing”

One of the popular lines to come out from Sydney, which turned into it’s own hashtag was,

“Never tell someone you’ve automated it – Claim the hard work”

After some more information regarding PowerCLI, new SDKs, and PowerCLICore, the SDDC automation process was completed. Alan took the opportunity to introduce the new API Explorer in vCenter 6.5 where you are able to navigate through a series of APIs and get snippets of script. Alan also introduced the new DCLI and interactive mode which is a new CLI that is easier to use and manage. There were a couple of hiccups as the automated SDDC hadn’t finished starting some services, but this was minor and allowed Duncan Epping to walk up on stage as a waiter and deliver beer to Alan and William while they finished their presentation.

Overall, this was the best UserCon I have been to (2nd UserCon in fact) and it was full of great information from some of the best in the IT industry worldwide. There were people I have spoken to on forums, twitter, and other internet areas but I had never met in person before that I finally got to meet and sit down and have a god chat with. The information I brought back with me will be getting put to use in the coming months at work and I also have grown that little bit more in the way I think and process my actions. From having people join me for breakfast, to people meeting me at the event and encouraging my growth in virtualization and in IT, I can definitely say there is a great community within VMUG (Especially Melbourne) that is willing to support one another.

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